By Steve Buffum
Actually, Carroll has a broken bone in his hand, so this is currently the ageless Tony Graffinino, who is ageless in the sense that he plays no better nor worse than he did when I thought he was going to be A
Next Big Thing and was clearly not.
It's a bit of a shame to list someone as versatile and useful as Carroll as a Bottom Five Guy: without him last year, the whole season dissolves into a gooey morass. Trading Casey Blake
(and acquiring the apparently-super Carlos Santana, as well as Jon Meloan) wouldn't have been as palatable without Carroll, and without Carroll you'd have gotten a Whole Lotta Josh Barfield,
which would not have been a good thing.
Carroll is what he is: a guy who can play credible defense at four positions and get on base while playing any of them. He isn't going to slug over .400 in all likelihood, but he's got that
whole gritty-gutty-utility thing going for him that makes him extremely valuable: he's not really good enough to start at any of the positions he plays, but he is good enough that if your regular tweaks an ankle or gets hit in the hand, he can step in for a week and not cost your team a chance to win.
Plus, he's just damned adorable. Look at him! (Admit it, you just swooned.)